Competition with barred owls (Strix varia varia) is an important factor contributing to the continued decline of threatened northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina) populations in the Pacific Northwest, USA, but basic information on habitat selection and space use patterns of barred owls is lacking for much of the region. We investigated space use and habitat selection by tracking radiotagged barred owls in the Eastern Cascade Range of Washington, USA, from 2004 to 2006. We surveyed for barred owls across the 309-km2 study area and confirmed presence of barred owl pairs at 21 sites. We collected movement data on 14 barred owls from 12 sites. Mean annual 95% fixed-kernel home-range size was 194 ha for females (n = 4, SD = 70) and 288 ha for males (n = 5, SD = 114). Home ranges were located more frequently than expected in areas with low topographic position, gentle slopes, large overstory tree-crown diameter, high normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), overstory tree canopy closure >72%, and a moderate amount of solar insolation. Within home ranges, areas that had large tree-crown diameters, low topographic positions, and gentle slopes were used more frequently than expected. The resource selection function we developed for barred owls in our study area indicated that barred owls used areas with the combination of low values for topographic position and slope and higher values for NDVI, solar insolation, and an interaction term for canopy closure and tree-crown diameter. In comparison to published information on northern spotted owls, barred owls used areas with similar canopy closure and tree size classes, but barred owl home ranges were much smaller and more concentrated on gentler slopes in valley bottoms. This information may contribute to the development of management practices that maintain forest characteristics appropriate for spotted owl habitat and prey in areas where spotted owls are least likely to be excluded by territorial barred owls in the Eastern Cascades of Washington.
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Vol. 74 • No. 2